About 50 children who are from low-income households or have been the victim of a crime will shop for toys Saturday with a Virginia Beach police officer or sheriff’s deputy during the annual “Cops & Kids” event. The Fraternal Order of Police raises money for the purchases.
The event is the latest in a busy month of efforts by local law enforcement and fire department employees and volunteers to spread goodwill and smiles for the holidays.
On Dec. 5, the Virginia Beach Fire Department teamed up with restaurants along the Oceanfront for the annual “Bikes for Tykes” event. One hundred children received new bicycles thanks to the roughly $14,000 raised by The Ice House Restaurant, South Beach Grill, Boneshakers Restaurant and the Boneshakers Social Club. The Fire Department led a procession that included Santa and the bike delivery.
The next weekend, the Virginia Beach Fire Department was one of 10 fire departments in the area that teamed up with EDMARC Hospice for Children to deliver gifts to children who have life-threatening illnesses.
EDMARC Executive Director Debbie Stitzer-Brame said in a release that the program helps families with sick children stay home and enjoy their time together instead of using it to try to find presents.
“Shopping during the holidays is stressful enough, but just think what it would be like if you had a child that is sick and in a wheelchair,” Stitzer-Brame said.
Many families they help are also busy with doctor appointments and hospital visits.
“Our program aims to help reduce that stress and make it a time of joy and remembrance,” Stitzer-Brame said.
The fire departments delivered holiday gifts over about five hours to more than 80 families in Hampton Roads. Santa rode along in a Virginia Beach fire truck for the visits. Many of the children had written letters to him already, so organizers had an idea of what they wanted.
The Sheriff’s Office has also been working to help the homeless. They collected hygiene items and stuffed 125 bags for three local service providers — the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, the Lighthouse Center and The Potter’s House. Deputies also helped fill about 200 stockings with toys, candy and other treats for the Salvation Army to distribute.